I’ve been exploring issues of leadership trust with some of my clients and readers. Here are some interesting articles and thoughts from business reviews.

There are three different forms of trust, according to “The Enemies of Trust,” a February 2002 Harvard Business Review article by leadership experts Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau:

  1. Strategic trust—the trust employees have in the people running the show to make the right strategic decisions. Do top managers have the vision and competence to set the right course, intelligently allocate resources, fulfill the mission and help the company succeed?
  2. Personal trust—the trust employees have in their managers. Do managers treat employees fairly? Do they consider employees’ needs when making decisions about the business and put the company’s needs ahead of their own?
  3. Organizational trust—the trust people have in the company itself. Are processes well designed, consistent and fair? Does the company make good on its promises?

Clearly, these three types of trust are distinct, but they’re linked in important ways. For example, every time a manager violates her direct reports’ personal trust, organizational trust is shaken.

The Trinity of Trust

While many factors contribute to our perceptions of trustworthiness, three vital traits comprise “the trinity of trust,” writes management consultant James Robbins in Nine Minutes on Monday:

  • Character: What do your employees see when they look at you? How do they perceive your values, work ethic, integrity and honesty? Studies consistently cite honesty as managers’ No. 1 attribute—consistently doing what they say they’ll do. When managers act with integrity and reliability, they lay a foundation on which employees can rely.
  • Competence: Employees place more trust in you when they believe you’re capable of effective leadership. This does not mean you’re the smartest one in the room—a position of superiority that, in fact, undermines perceived competency. Your managerial competency should not be measured by your technical skills, but by your ability to understand and influence people.
  • Caring: The most neglected ingredient in the trust trinity is the ability to show you care. Employees don’t want to be cogs in a wheel. They want to feel that they matter and their bosses actually care about them as people. Only then can they reciprocate with trust.

What evidence can you see where you work that leaders actively seek your trust? What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 561-582-6060, let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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